Cephalus is introduced as a virtuous man, and Socrates obviously admires him for his wisdom. In fact, Socrates explicitly states, “I enjoy talking to those who are very old very much, for it seems to me one ought to learn from them, as too no doubt will need to travel” (328d). This statement also establishes Socrates’ appreciation, respect, and value for his elders. Plato furthers Cephalus’ wise image by purposely distinguishing him from his group of friends who collectively “[yearn] for the pleasures [of their] youth” (329a). Plato makes this distinction through Cephalus’ words concerning the men; where he could have used “we”— which would have included himself— he chose to use “they” in order to set Cephalus apart. For instance, “they get irritable as though they’d been deprived of some great things and as though they 'd lived well then but now weren 't even living” (329b). However, instead of mourning the loss of his youth alongside his friends, Cephalus proves his maturity and wisdom when he explains to Socrates, “a great peace and freedom ...
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... of Athenian men and praises the Sophists’ work, Socrates effectually ranks Cephalus inferior to Thrasymachus. Thrasymachus is often thought to be the “evil persona” of Book 1, while Cephalus is thought to be the most godlike, but Socrates disproves this viewpoint by proving Thrasymachus to be superior to Cephalus.
Despite the fact that Plato originally paints Cephalus to be the ultimate role model of Book 1 of the Republic by introducing him as the only figure concerned with divine practices and relaying wise information, Plato completely undermines this idea with subtle gibes aimed at Cephalus from other characters. The fact that other characters were able to determine Cephalus’ insincere wisdom and righteousness proves Cephalus’ insincerity was not subtle at all. Perhaps readers should refrain from revering Cephalus when reading Book 1, but instead scorn him.
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